Blunt Weapons

Nunchaku Training: How to Use Nunchaku Techniques Against a Knife-Wielding Attacker

You’re reading a book or an article on nunchaku techniques. You read that a person is confronted by a knife-wielding assailant and the defender slips his nunchaku around the waist of his attacker, gives a twist and sends the brute flipping onto his back.

Or the defender parries a knife thrust, adroitly steps inside and gets the attacker in a nunchaku chokehold.

Or the defender knocks the knife from the person’s hand with a nunchaku technique, lunges forward and down, wraps the nunchaku around the assailant’s ankles and sweeps him off his feet.

How do you feel when you read something like that? Do you buy it? Do you honestly think these types of nunchaku techniques would really work?

The Realities of Nunchaku Training

Imagine yourself in the role of the defender in a real-life situation. You’re walking down a street — alone. Suddenly, someone approaches. This someone is holding a knife. By his words and actions, you have no doubt that he intends to use the knife on you.

It’s a narrow, dead-end street. Consequently, your best defense — escape — is not possible.

But you do have your nunchaku with you. You grab hold of the sticks and face your attacker. ln that precious fraction of a second, you have to decide what you are going to do and which of your nunchaku techniques you’re going to use.


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How to Use Nunchaku Techniques in a Dangerous Situation

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you really want to get close enough to attempt slipping the nunchaku around his wrist? (There’s a hand at the end of that wrist, and there’s a knife in that hand.)
  • Do you really want to try to parry a knife thrust? (Remember, this is for real.)
  • Are you really sure that, under such circumstances, you could be accurate enough with your nunchaku techniques to knock a knife out of someone’s hand? (Hands are pretty small and very mobile targets.)

If your answers to the preceding questions are “No,” well then, what do you do?

Something practical. Something realistic. A nunchaku technique that has a very good chance of working.

You may only get one chance.

Choosing Nunchaku Techniques

Whatever nunchaku technique you choose should meet the following criteria:

  • It is fast.
  • It is unexpected.
  • It does not require unrealistic accuracy or power.
  • It leaves you in a good position to strike again or withdraw in the event your attacker is not neutralized.

With these criteria in mind, the following two variations of a practical nunchaku technique against a knife attack are proposed. Both variations share the same general outline:

  • a feint (to draw the attacker’s attention away from the direction of the actual strike)
  • the strike itself
  • good final position (ending in a stance that is neither awkward nor defenseless)

One variation of the nunchaku technique uses a forehand swing of the weapon to the attacker’s head, the other a backhand swing. Let’s analyze the steps in each variation.

Nunchaku Technique #1: The Forehand Variation

In this nunchaku technique for self-defense, the defender squares off against the knife-wielding attacker and leads with his left side. The nunchaku is held in a ready position over the right shoulder. The defender leaves a fairly large distance between himself and the attacker (always a good idea when up against someone with a knife).

The defender then throws a low (about knee-high) front kick with the rear leg (his right leg). This serves three purposes:

  • It draws the attacker’s attention down and away from the nunchaku, putting the assailant, at least for a moment, on the defensive.
  • It closes the gap between the two combatants while the attacker is on the defensive, putting him in range of a nunchaku strike.
  • It pivots the defender, turning him in the same direction as the upcoming strikes, thereby adding power to the swing of the nunchaku.

The feint-kick is not meant to connect with the attacker’s leg; it is meant to divert attention downward. (Glancing down at the attacker’s knee just before throwing the kick can help draw his attention downward.) The kick should look forceful enough to put the attacker on the defensive, but it is not necessary to make contact. This allows the defender to maintain a safer distance because the striking range of nunchaku is considerably greater than that of a kick or a knife.


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The real strike is a full-swinging nunchaku forehand to the attacker’s head. The strike should begin…

Karate Weapons: Fumio Demura Outlines the History of (and the Karate Techniques Possible With) the Tonfa

Karate weapons master Fumio Demura wields tonfa.Think of a martial arts weapon — what do you see? A pair of nunchaku, a flashing blade, a Chinese spear?

Chances are, you didn’t think of karate weapons like the tonfa.The tonfa hasn’t been gIamorized in films, and it’s one of the less dramatic of the better-known karate weapons. Yet these ancient karate weapons are well-established in the art of kobudo (weapons use).

In application and training, the tonfa provides a vital link between kobudo and karate.

“Kobudo and karate are like the two wheels of a bicycle. They are separate, but they work according to the same principles. To be useful, they have to work together,” says karate weapons and karate techniques expert Fumio Demura, an instructor of both arts who teaches the use of the tonfa.

Fumio Demura demonstrates tonfa karate weapons sequences against a bo.

Fumio Demura holds advanced-dan rankings in kobudo and karate; he has trained in kendo and iaido; he was the All-Japan karate champion in 1961 and a Black Belt Hall of Fame inductee in 1969 and 1975. He sums up his perspective on the tonfa as follows: “lt doesn‘t have the popularity of the nunchaku, the sai or the bo. But I’m sure this is only temporary because the tonfa is an important weapon in kobudo. lt’s a very effective weapon for fighting and extremely valuable in training, as well.”

How the Tonfa Became One of the Most Versatile Karate Weapons

The tonfa originally did not exist amid the world of karate weapons but rather was an agricultural implement common throughout Eastern Asia. It was the “handle” by which a millstone was turned, so its basic, functional shape was repeated independently in many areas. The long, heavy end of the tonfa (or tui-fa, as it was also called) was fitted into a hole in the side of the millstone, and the smaller, handle end of the tool was used to turn the stone to grind rice.


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It was in Okinawa that the tonfa first developed into full-fledged karate weapons. The Ryukyu Island chain (of which Okinawa is the largest island) has always suffered a dearth of workable metal, leading the inhabitants to experiment with various kinds of wooden implements.

During the 17th century, the islands were conquered by the Japanese. The invaders forbade native Okinawans to carry weapons — which made spear guns, swords and other “ordinary” weapons that much more difficult to obtain. Even empty-hand combat training was outlawed for a time in the interest of subduing the populace.

In response, the people of Okinawa developed new weapons — weapons that could be disguised as innocent tools. The tonfa was one of these early karate weapons. Any fairly large farm was likely to have a number of millstone handles available, so they could easily be explained away as tools of the trade (in case some Japanese soldier got curious).

Karate weapons master Fumio Demura executes tonfa demonstration.

On the other hand, the tonfa could — with training in the karate techniques of early Okinawa — easily be put to deadly use.

In those days, the tonfa was simply a convenient, hard and rather sophisticated club, used for striking or throwing. The farmer, trying to defend his fields or his family from occupation forces, might have carried three or four tonfa so he could throw some of these karate weapons at his enemy from a distance while remaining prepared for close battle.

Fumio Demura demonstrates how karate weapons like the tonfa fare against swords.

Karate Weapons Today: How the Tonfa Figures Into Karate Techniques

Today, while there is no hard-and-fast rule, the art of kobudo generally uses two tonfa — one in each hand.

The powerful blocks and the straight, penetrating blows of karate all are strengthened by the tonfa, which can be used in simple adaptation of empty-hand techniques. These karate weapons are held in the hand, their long ends parallel to and under the forearms.

Karate weapons extend the range of the defender, as demonstrated by tonfa master Fumio Demura.

When holding these karate weapons, each hand becomes, in effect, as hard as the solid white oak or cherry wood of which tonfa are generally made. One can strike at an assailant with karate techniques such as the punch, using the tonfa almost like a large wooden brass knuckle.

The heavy part of the tonfa also can be whipped or swung with great velocity, simply by keeping a loose grip on the handle, using the handle as a swivel and letting the tonfa build momentum by swinging it in a circular path to strike the target.

“You can’t swing the tonfa as fast as the nunchaku,” karate techniques expert Fumio Demura says, “but remember, it’s a much heavier weapon, too. Nunchaku seem almost like toys — they’re small, but their momentum gives them power. Tonfa are quite a bit heavier, so with less …

An Introduction to Stick Combat by Legendary Hwa Rang Do Student Michael Echanis

The stick is probably the most available “field expedient” weapon to which a soldier has access. As a combat weapon, it becomes usable for everything from riot or prisoner control to an extremely lethal close-quarters-combat weapon.

At one moment, the stick can be a cane and the next it can be breaking a man’s wrist, arm or neck. In this context, we will primarily deal with the stick and its use in combat as a weapon for survival. Various sizes and different techniques will give you a basis for evaluation and readjustment so that each technique will conform to you and your mental/physical abilities.

Michael Echanis on Stick Combat vs. Knife Combat

One important factor in your evaluation of the stick as a weapon — in contrast and in comparison to the knife — is the stick’s focus of attack on the bony protrusions and nerve centers of the human anatomy. The knife cuts and slashes veins, arteries, muscles and tendons of the body.


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Michael Echanis on Stick Combat and the Human Anatomy

In the study of close-quarters combat and its scientific application of technique during actual attack, the focus of mental/physical contact must be directed to vital portions of the human anatomy. By simple and correct application of technique and mental focus of power, the smallest man can become a lethal weapon to the largest of assailants.

A weapon in the hand of a trained individual is the integral difference between a lethal and a nonlethal close-quarters-combat technique.

Michael Echanis on Improvised Weapons

An example of applying common sense to this type of situation is the use of an ashtray as a lethal weapon in close-quarters combat.

The edge of the glass curvature — the outer portion of the weapon — becomes the focus point of attack when directed to bony protrusions of the enemy’s anatomy such as finger joints, knuckles and bony portions of the upper hand, wrist, elbow, collarbone, jawbone, bridge of the nose or temple.

A well-focused strike with this simple, commonly found weapon will deliver a disabling or extremely lethal blow in a crucial self-defense situation.

The writing pen or a hardwood pencil is another example of a simple, commonly found weapon, which can be a lifesaving factor in certain life-or-death situations, such as in the face of physical violence or rape.

There are many methods to injure an assailant with merely a pen, hardwood pencil, a set of keys or a comb — such as a direct thrust into the eyes, throat, jugular vein or clavicle region of the enemy. These harsh methods of reaction are necessary in life-or-death, hand-to-hand combat encounters. Only those who are willing to remain calm and act decisively will survive these types of violent encounters.

Michael Echanis on How Stick-Combat Training Can Influence Use of Improvised Weapons

The keys to mastering survival in close-quarters combat is common sense, being aware of readily available natural and man-made weapons in your immediate surroundings, and knowing their application of attack to vital areas of the human anatomy.

It can be as simple as throwing hot coffee in the eyes of the enemy to gain that split second needed for reaction.

The stick is invaluable in the sense of “common sense” and its application of attack to the anatomy of the enemy.


The Complete Michael D. Echanis Collection features stick combat, knife fighting and self-defense moves.To move forward with your study of stick combat, pick up your copy of The Complete Michael D. Echanis Collection, which features the following:
  • a vital striking chart detailing critical points of the human anatomy for effective stick combat
  • using the baton in stick combat
  • using the double short stick (also known as the “bone breaker”) in stick combat
  • a special chapter on cane techniques demonstrated by hwa rang do’s supreme grandmaster Dr. Joo Bang Lee
  • and much more!

Knockout and Concussion Statistics for Violent Encounters

Editor’s Note: Because it’s impossible to defend yourself when you’re unconscious, knockouts play a critical role in any fight, whether it takes place in the ring or on the street. In our September issue, we explored the physiological effects of a knockout and why head trauma is such a controversial topic in combat sports. Now it’s time to look at the concussion statistics for violent encounters so you can avoid getting knocked out.

Analyst James LaFond studied 1,675 acts of violence that took place between June 1996 and May 2000. At the request of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, he then analyzed the incidents in his study that led to a knockout. To make his discoveries easier to digest, we’re presenting his findings in a Q-and-A format.

—Jon Sattler

How often was someone knocked out by an open-hand martial arts blow?

Twice. A palm heel to the chin and a double palm to the chest. One other such blow was attempted (a knifehand to the throat), but it failed. Although 30 percent of KO situations involved a trained fighter (law-enforcement officer, boxer, wrestler, martial artist, kickboxer), the attempted use of open-hand blows was statistically insignificant.

What are the most effective one-strike-knockout methods?

  • 100-percent success with a sucker punch by a competition-level boxer, delivered to the jaw of an individual male who is usually taller and talking.
  • 98-percent success with a surprise come-from-behind strike executed with a heavy blunt weapon to the head of an intoxicated male.
  • 95-percent success with a poor-leverage throw effected by a larger male against a smaller member of an aggressive group or against an individual participant in a match fight.
  • 90-percent success with a punch thrown by an average-size athletic man against an unprepared member of a poorly organized aggressive group.
  • 90-percent success with a kick thrown by a competition-level kickboxer against an unprepared person.
  • 80-percent success with an elbow strike to the head or face executed by a male wrestler, boxer or kickboxer.
  • 75-percent success with an attack effected with a moving vehicle on a pedestrian.
  • Note that 73 percent is the typical rate of success for aggressors, with the vast majority of the incapacitations stemming from multiple strikes.

    What’s the most common method of avoiding a knockout?

    This study defines violence from the point at which it’s physically initiated by the deployment of a weapon, by the closing of the distance by an aggressor, or by a violent or controlling touch. From this perspective, a defender has little opportunity for avoidance (because that time has typically passed), and flight is a viable option in less than half of violent situations.

    In situations in which violence of an incapacitating nature is imminent (when facing a group, an extremely powerful man or an armed person), KOs are avoided by the following methods listed in order of increasing effectiveness:

  • minimal aggression (pushing, slapping, holding)
  • defensive techniques (blocking, ducking, etc.)
  • escape and flight
  • verbal dissuasion
  • serious grappling (throwing, wall slamming, floor fighting)
  • brandishing a weapon
  • toughness and poise (the ability to take it)
  • power striking
  • How do specific fighting arts rate?

  • 19 percent of karate stylists who hadn’t kickboxed knocked out their opponents in violent situations. This is identical to the worldwide kickboxing KO rate of 19 percent.
  • 20 percent of boxers knocked out their antagonists, compared to the 34-percent worldwide boxing KO rate. These fights were often urban street encounters that featured groups, weapons and indecisive resolutions.
  • 90 percent of boxers involved in drunken brawls knocked out their opponents, with 10 percent sustaining hand injuries. Not one of those boxers jabbed.
  • 36 percent of martial artists who had kickboxed knocked out their antagonists. These encounters reflect a wide variety of circumstances and correspond to the worldwide boxing KO rate. The side kick was the dominant KO strike.
  • 47 percent of identified noncombat athletes scored KOs in brawls and self-defense situations. They were primarily large throwers (football players) and small punchers (rugby, softball and soccer players) taking the fight to low-cohesion groups of smaller males.
  • How did the various weapons perform with respect to knockouts?

    The incapacitation rates were as follows:

  • Folding knife: 19%
  • Fixed-blade knife: 38%
  • Pencil: 13%
  • Pointed tool: 44%
  • Prison-made shank: 64%
  • Razor: 5%
  • Sword: 33%
  • Stick/baton: 37% (for law-enforcement officers), 20% (for escrimadors), 28% (for untrained persons), 27% (for groups)
  • Bat: 58%
  • Board/club: 70%
  • Pipe/bar: 36%
  • Sap/blackjack: 47%
  • Stone/brick/trophy: 56%
  • Blunt tool: 42%
  • Machinery/furniture: 42%
  • Everyday item (bottle, etc.): 20% (used by the defender), 7% (used by the aggressor)
  • George Kirby’s Top 10 Jujitsu Techniques: Armbar Rear Throw

    George Kirby— a 10th-degree black belt in jujitsu—is an internationally recognized martial arts instructor and author, has taught jujitsu techniques and tactics to the Los Angeles Police Department. Because it allows you to control your opponent, the armbar rear throw is a popular jujitsu technique among law enforcement.

    See what the jujitsu master had to say about the armbar rear throw:

    There are many variations of this technique. Once you get the concept of this figure-4 lock down it becomes a very forgiving technique although it must be used carefully. It also has great law-enforcement applications as a takedown and come-along control hold.

    Jujitsu Technique No. 9: Armbar Rear Throw

    Japanese Translation: UDE GURUMA USHIRO

    1) Assume a ready position as you face an attacker.

    2) If your attacker swings with an overhead club, cross-block in the same manner as the corkscrew technique.

    3) Continue to block with your right forearm while your left hand grabs his right wrist and hand. (The first two fingers of your left hand should be on the back of his right hand.)

    4) Release the block with your right forearm and use the outer edge of your right hand to strike down on the attacker’s elbow to bend it. Bend his hand at the same time by pushing with your left hand.

    5) Move your right arm under his upper arm and clamp your onto the back of his hand. Simultaneously step forward with your right foot.

    6) Step forward with your left foot as your bring both your arms down. CAUTION: Execute this phase slowly and go only as fast as your partner can fall. It is quite possible to tear the shoulder out of its socket.

    7) If you choose to do a shoulder-lock submission, drop down with the attacker on your right knee. Your left hand should rest on the back of his elbow. Push his elbow away from you as you pull his wrist toward you for submission. NOTE: This is a very traditional way to learn this shoulder lock. There are numerous variations to setting up this very effective lock.


    Learn more jujitsu techniques from George Kirby with our FREE guide—Basic Jujitsu Techniques: 4 Budoshin Moves to Improve Your Jujitsu Weapons Training.


    George Kirby’s Top 10 Jujitsu Techniques

    Technique No. 1: Shoulder-Lock Hip Throw

    Technique No. 2: Rear Leg-Left Throw

    Technique No. 3: Basic Drop Throw

    Technique No. 4: Elbow Lift

    Technique No. 5: Shoulder-Lock Come-Along

    Technique No. 6: Shoulder-Lock Rear Takedown

    Technique No. 7: Sleeve Pivot Throw

    Technique No. 8: Outer Rear Sweeping Throw

    (To learn more about these and other basic jujitsu techniques, check out Jujitsu: Basic Techniques of the Gentle Art Expanded Edition by George Kirby.)